Imatges de pÓgina
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perience the benefit of it. It is true, " the children of this world are in their generation, (generally speaking,) wiser than the children of light;" yet in this particular the children of God are as wise as they. Their own reason, the holy word of God, and universal experience, unitedly tell them, it is their duty and interest, to unite together as the heart of one man, that they may mutually assist each other, in the way to the kingdom of God.

Being united, “they spake often one to another," From hence we learn, they frequently met together, not only to hear the word preached, and for social prayer ; but they spake one to another.” They met together for spiritual conversation, that they might" mutually edify one another. It is exceeding easy to observe, except something of this kind is done, there are a variety of exhortations in the writings of St. Paul which cannot be improved as they ought. Such as these, “Bear ye each other's burdens."

Let the strong bear the infirmities of the weak.” Strengthen

“ Provoke one another to love and good works." « Exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day;" and many such like duties are recommended to us in the Scriptures. How often are we called upon to declare the loving-kindness of the Lord, and to make knowri what he hath done for our souls: “O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness," saith the Psalmist," and declare the wonderful works which he doth for the children of men.” And again : “ O let your songs be of him, and praise him, and let your talking be of all his wondrous works." Can any thing be more reasonable than that the children of God should know the state of each other's minds? How else shall they be able to give suitable advice one to another ? Does not . God, in the general, help man by man; and is it not bis express design, that we should edify, or instruct one another When those who fear God are met together, in order seriously to enquire into each other's spiritual state, and to be inforịned how the Lord' is carrying on his work in their minds, how often do they find, that " as iron sharpeneth iron, so doth the coult: narice, " and much more the conversation, “ of a man his friend." The advantage arising from meetings of this kind is exceeding great : One person has been wrestling with God in prayer, the sacred fire of divine love is kindled in his heart, he comes among his christian brethren full of faith and holy love, his words are quick and power, ful, and he is an instrument in the hand of the Lord, of kiodling the sacred Aame in the minds of those who are present. An increasing measure of spiritual light is given to another; having freely received, be as freely gives, and cominunicates this to his brethren. One is tempted and much distressed, and is ready to say, “ Was there ever sorrow like unto my sorrow? If I am a child of God, why am I thus ?" He freely opens his mind among his christian friends, and not only finds thac some of them have been tempted in like manner, but he is greatly strengthened and encouraged, by their scriptural counsels and fervent prayers. The spirit of prayer powerfully rests upon one, he is favoured with free access to the throne of grace, and

ye each other's hands in the Lord.”

pours out the holy breathings of his soul before the Lord, and all who are present enjoy the benefit, perhaps in as high a degree as himself; so graciously does the Lord deal with them. If unbelieving Thomas is not present with bis brethren, when Jesus appears in the midst of them, and fully convinces them of the reality of his resurrection ; no wonder if he continues in unbelief: And if others of the same cast with him, will not be prevailed upon to associate with the people of God, but will keep at a distance, they must abide by the consequences, and it is most probable that they will be found in a barren and thirsty land.

Did we only consider our many weakresses and infirmities, I am inclined to think we should see we stand in need of li the help we can get, either from God or man. And how it is that pious people satisfy themselves, when they willingly refuse those spiritual privileges, which a kind and gracious God hath put in their way, is not for me to say. However .there are a few, eren in these degenerate days, who are like minded with those in the time of Malachi, who speak often one to another, and who can chearfully sing,

" What a mercy is this,

" What a heaven of bliss !
“ How unspeakably happy am I?

“ Gathered into thy fold,

“ With thy people enrolld,

“ With thy people to live, and to die." « The Lord hearkened and heard it ;" he approved of their conduct, he saw they were acting agreeable to his will, and taking such measures as had a direct tendency to bring his wise and gracious purposes concerning them to good effect. It appears, from every part of the sacred Scriptures,

that the designs of God towards them who fear him, are designs of peace, and not of evil; he intends to promote, in every possible way, consistent with his own intinite justice and holiness, their present and eternal happiness. All bis precious promises, and gracious declarations, beat witness to this truth. It must be well-pleasing to God, to see his people workers together with him, in using those means and taking those measures which he bath appointed, for the accomplishment of his own designs, and as he hath promised, " that where two or three are met together, in bis Name, there he will be in the midst of then;" and " in waiting upon him, they shall renew their strength,” we may rest satisfied, that he is well pleased to see us atten. tive to our duty, paying a proper regard to his institutions ; and having his glory in view, and our own salvation at heart, looking for the accomplishment of his blessed designs, and the fulfilment of his promises.

« And a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and thought upon his Name." Here we see the merciful condescension of the blessed God, how he stoops to the weakness of the human understanding, and speaks to us after the manner of men. We know that properly speaking, there are no books in heaven; the infi. nitely wise and all-seeing God has no need of any book of remembrance; but the expression is strongly figurative, and from it we understand, the Lord approves of, and will never forget the conduct of his people, in this respect. In this expression there is a manifest allusion to the custom made use of in the courts of kings, where public records are kept; not only of the praise-worthy deeds of particular persons, that they may receive a suitable reward, at a proper time; but also of the bad conduct of others, that they may be punished according to their desert. An instance of this sort we have in the case of Mordecai, the Jew. When by the merciful interposition of God, the king, who had consented that the Jews should all be destroyed, 'could not sleep, and to amuse him, the book of records was brought out, there it was found written, 'that Mordecai' bad been the instrument of saving the king's life, when two of his chamberlains had conspired against him; and by this wonderful providence, the whole body of the Jews were preserved from destruction. So here, for the comfort and encouragement of those that fear the Lord, who thus speak one to another, they are told that their conduct is kept upon record in heaven, and shall meet with its proper reward, in due time.

They are also said, “ to think upon the Name of the Lord; and we shall find, that this has no small tendency to heighten their happiness. Moses proclaimed the Name of the Lord to the Israelites; “ The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin" And again, it is said, “ The Name of the Lord is a strong tower, and the righteous bave run into it, and are safe."

Whether they think of the one declaration or the other, they are comforted. By the former, they are encouraged to draw near to his throne with confidence, believing that his mercy in Christ Jesus shall abound towards them; and by the latter, they are emboldened to put their trust in him, being persuaded that under the shadow of his wings they shall be safe ; while at the same time, they highly honour and greatly reverence the sacred Name of that Gud, whose saving mercy and powerful protection they are blest with.

But the disciple whom Jesus loved, gives a still more pleasing idea of the God we serve, when he says

66 God is love." And every part of that revelation which he hath made of himself, bears witness to the truth of this; so that we may justly say of him. He is infinite, unchangeable, never-failing love. And in all his conduct towards his children, his love is regulated by infinite wisdom, and attended by omnipotent power : So that those who trust in him, and have 'scriptural views of his love, his wisdom, and his power, may well rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; hence saith the Psalmist, “ they that know thy name Thall put their trust in thee, for thou Lord hast not forsaken them that trust in thee."

“And thev shall be mine, faith the Lord of Hofts, in the day when I make up my jewels;" the Lord will publicly own them for his people in that day, when, as it is said, in the very next verse, “ Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." The Lord grants unto his children many bleffed tokens of his. favour and friendship, while passing through this vale of tears; he graciously visits, coinforts, strengthens, and protects them, and at certain fea'ons, enables them to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But the time will come when, « The Lord shall be revealed from heaven, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them who know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power: And what is very remarkable, it immediately follows these astonishingly awful words, “When he shall come to be glorifled in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." It is worthy of our observation, that it is not laid our Lord Thall be glorified by his saints, on this solemn occasion, but in. his saints. The glory of the Lord shall be seen upon them; his glorious image being stamped upon their hearts, it shall now shine forth in such wise, that all shall see it, and in the fullest sense of the word, “take knowledge of them, that they have been with Jesus ;' and every one shall be constrained to say “ The Lord hath done great things for them." Then shall be fulfilled, in a far higher degree than ever it could be in time, “ Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee ; Even the ungodly thall then be constrained to say, “ We fools counted their lives madness, and their end without honour ; but now they are numbered with the saints, and their lot is ainong the righteous.”

They are here distinguished from the rest of mankind, by being called the Lord's jewels. This must be considered as a figurative expression, and designed, no doubt, to convince uś of the exceeding high regard that the God of love hath for his children. The metaphor made use of may be designed to express the purity and holiness of the saints and servants of God; as jewels are transparent, and shine with a beautiful lustre, so the children of God are made pure in heart, as well as outwardly holy; fu that it would be for their advantage, could men see their inward designs and intentions, as well as their qutward conduct. The enemies of God and religion, when they can fee nothing in the life and conversation of the people of God, that they can with any fhadow of reason reprove, then they will condemn them altogether, as hypocrites and deceivers. But could they see the fincerity and integrity which reign in their hearts, they would be conitrained to form a different judgment of thein.

Men commonly set a very high value, upon their jewels, and carefully preserve them; so does our gracious Lord delight in, and highly value his children : Unworthy as they are, they are the workmanship of his hands, and they are the purchase of his precious blood ; and therefore he faith by the Plalmist, “The Lord hath chosen Jacob fot himself,

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